Briefings: In Longmeadow, Gilet Wilts against a Write-in Rosenblum…
Longmeadow voters elected three members of the School Committee, but only two were on the ballot. Incumbent Nicole Choiniere and newcomer Michaela Fitzgerald won seats as did Adam Rosenblum, who mounted a write-in bid. Unofficial results suggest Rosenblum did not just accomplish one of the more difficult tasks in politics, but he soundly beat the third candidate on the ballot.
Kency Gilet, formerly of Springfield and an also-ran in two Council elections there, should have been on a glidepath to electoral office. However, his past statements about school safety—namely a suggestion about staff carrying guns—and a history of right-wing commentary on social media unnerved many in this wealthy and only recently liberal town. Among those who had concerns was Rosenblum who ran in large part to stop Gilet.
Unofficial results Town Moderator Rebecca Townsend shared on Twitter show Choiniere and Fitzgerald comfortably winning 1417 and 1490 votes respectively. Gilet was next among the candidates on the ballot with 327 but there were 1227 write-in votes recorded.
Also on Tuesday, Vineeth Hemavathi, who won a special election to complete an unexpired Select Board term , easily defeated Walter Gunn in a rematch.
Town election staff may not immediately read and count the write-in vote. Yet to win, Gilet would need a huge number of them to not go to Rosenblum. While not impossible, it is unlikely. Rosenblum had distributed stickers and his supporters, including Longmeadow Democrats, offered guides to voters to ensure they fill out write-in votes properly.
Rosenblum did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, he was declaring victory on Facebook.
“Words cannot express my gratitude at the extraordinary effort of so many in such a pure grassroots campaign. I owe any and all success tonight to every member of Longmeadow. I can only hope to equal all your efforts as I serve a Longmeadow on the school committee,” he wrote.
Gilet ran for City Council in Springfield on generally conservative platforms, with some right-wing flourishes. Online, he trained his fire much more broadly, condemning the usual conservative bugaboos and Democrats with sometimes inflammatory language. That rhetoric was very unlike Republicans who have won nonpartisan municipal office before in the deeply Democratic city.
Finding himself in Longmeadow amid life changes, Gilet appeared to follow a similar playbook this year. A licensed therapist, he focused heavily on mental health. Then, his 2018 opinion piece in The Reminder surfaced. There, he urged school boards to allow school personnel who lawfully own guns to carry on campus. His library of social media troubled residents as did the opacity of deleting most of his accounts.
Gilet denied that he wanted to arm school personnel and he dismissed his online social media “flippant” and “haphazard.” Recent attempts to institute a book ban in Ludlow only escalated the alarm. However, Gilet insisted he did not intend to launch a culture war.
Hence Rosenblum’s campaign.
In an earlier comment to WMP&I, he confirmed Gilet’s Reminder piece heavily influence his decision to run. Rosenblum, a Baystate doctor and a med school professor, also described how the town’s size lent itself to a positive experience for himself and his family. He said his campaign was focused on both improving education, supporting teachers and keeping schools safe.
“We will continually search for the best ways to achieve our noble goals by embracing pluralism and keeping an open mind,” he had emailed.
With the election over, the School Committee can look to some stability at the School Department. The schools are the crown jewel of Longmeadow quality of life but have faced tumult for several years.
Prior to the pandemic, a trauma of its own, the School Committee faced a mass resignation amid a controversial decision to can the superintendent. Before that, several steady hands left the body, undermining the delicate balance between education and small-town politics.
Now with three of the seven-member committee beginning new terms, Longmeadow schools can move forward without viral or political upheavals. For now, anyway.